Scala dei Turchi, beware the Instagram models on the white cliffs of Sicily!

Scala dei Turchi, which means the “Turkish staircase”, is on Sicily’s southern Realmonte coast in the Provincia di Agrigento. The Sicilians are a bit sketchy about foreign nationalities. The place used to see lots of pirate raids from North Africa, and since Arabs, Moroccans, Tunisians and other foreigners are basically the same thing, the Turks…

Sicily’s Valley of the temples, Agrigento

There’s a modern town called Agrigento on Sicily’s southern coast, but alongside it, in a fertile valley, lies an ancient Greek city also called Agrigento. These cities give their name to the Sicilian Province of Agrigento. Agrigento was founded around 582–580 BC by Greek colonists from nearby Gela, who named it “Akragas”. In its heyday,…

Top Ten things to do in Sicily in Winter

Sicily isn’t usually the first place people think of going for holidays in winter, but my German friends pointed out to me it is actually a great choice. This isn’t just because you can often get winter sunshine, but also because there is lots going on, you can see the sights without the crowds, and…

The Garden of the Kolymbetra, Agrigento

Many people visit the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, Sicily and completely miss the luscious botanical garden called the Kolymbetra.   Originally, the Kolymbetra was an exquisite artificial lake, full of freshwater fish which were bred to eat, and a colony of swans. It was surrounded by beautiful plants and flowers, reflected in its…

The Valley of the temples, Agrigento, Sicily

I have made a slideshow of the excavated ancient Greek City of Akragas in the Province of Agrigento, Sicily. Nowadays it is called the Valley of the Temples, even though it is not in a valley. Founded as a Greek colony in the 7th century B.C., Agrigento became one of the leading cities in the Mediterranean…

Loafing around in Sicily’s Gingerbread Village

The people of San Biagio Platano, a village in south-western Sicily, have celebrated Easter every year since the 1700’s by decorating their streets with arches and towers made of bread. The entire community spends three months turning the place into a gingerbread village… yet Hansel and Gretel never come!   For this Archi di Pane…

How can Art bring the Dead back to Life?

We went to the southern Sicilian town of Favara a while back. The historic town centre looked like a slum in Chad, or perhaps the most bombed-out district of Damascus. There were wooden boards and scaffolding around the derelict houses, to make sure pieces of masonry didn’t land on the cars. There were hoardings to keep…

Blessed by a Pregnant Nun at Sciacca Carnival

The Carnival of Sciacca in Sicily may not be as famous as the Venice or Rio carnivals, but it is just as much fun. The day started with such heavy rain there was even talk of calling it all off, but in the end the rain stopped and the festivities started. All the children were…

A De Luxe Day in Luxurious Sciacca

Well, we’ve got so much to catch up on. I think, this time, I’ll tell you about the lovely sunny day we had at Sciacca with my sister-in-law and her family. My brother-in-law is the manager of a Rocco Forte hotel – oops no, I mean luxury spa and resort – which sports two exclusive…